Massive protests after cartel is linked to students dissolved in acid

Thousands took to the streets in Mexico’s second-largest city this week to protest the deaths of three missing film students — whose bodies a rapper had confessed to dissolving in hydrochloric acid.

About 12,000 people gathered in Guadalajara, not far from where the students were abducted last month, local media reported. Another group congregated in Mexico City.

“We demand justice, not only for our three colleagues but for the thousands of missing,” declared Oscar Juarez, a student leader at ITESO, a Jesuit university in Guadalajara.

The disturbing case highlights a problem troubling Mexican governments over the years — the disappearance of the country’s youth, human rights monitors said.

Federal statistics reveal that at least 15,516 people between the ages of 13 and 29 are officially listed as missing in Mexico — representing about 43 percent of those who have vanished in the entire country. More than 7,000 minors in total are missing, according to Interior Department statistics.

Juan Martin Perez, director of a non-governmental organization called Rights to Childhood, called youth disappearance an “epidemic” — contending that organized crime, lack of protection by the government, corruption and authorities’ complicity with criminal groups in some locations are to blame.

His organization also estimates that between 30,000 and 35,000 adolescents are victims of forced recruitment by cartels.

Christian Omar Palma Gutierrez, better known as “QBA,” was detained this week over the deaths of Salomon Aceves Gastelum, 25, Daniel Diaz, 20, and Marco Avalos, 20, in western Jalisco state last month, Agence France-Presse reported.

Gutierrez, whose YouTube channel boasts more than 125,000 subscribers, confessed to state prosecutors that he disposed of the bodies after the three victims were kidnapped, tortured and murdered, the outlet reported.

Gutierrez admitted that a friend recruited him three months ago to work for the Jalisco New Generation drug cartel, and that he had received 3,000 pesos — nearly $159 — a week.

The three victims had unwittingly been filming a school project at a former hangout for members of the Nueva Plaza gang in Jalisco when they were abducted, according to Mexican prosecutors.

Hit men from the cartel mistook the students for members of the rival gang — with whom they had been battling over drug turf — and abducted them on a road near the house while dressed as police officers, prosecutors said.

The cartel members interrogated the students at a safe house and beat one of them so badly, he died — prompting them to kill the other two, an investigator said.

Gutierrez, along with a second suspect who has also been detained, will be charged with aggravated kidnapping, AFP reported. Five more suspects remain at large.

With Post wires

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